For folks new to RSS, it means something like (there are arguments) “Really Simple Syndication.” Basically, it’s a way for a web site to list their headlines and a summary of each article. An RSS “reader” then pulls the headlines and summary to your Mac and you can scan through and select which item you want to read.
Could it be simpler? Not really. RSS has exploded on the web and over the past few months it has changed dramatically how I pickup news and articles, how many items I can read, and how much time I devote to browsing.
Tabs are dead. Long live RSS.
What, Tera? Tabbed browsing (love it in Safari and OmniWeb) are dead? Yep. RSS gets me 10 times as many pages and headlines to scan as tabs and does it in half the time (or less). That’s productivity.
My favorite RSS readers are NetNewsWire from Ranchero, and my current favorite, NewsFire RSS from David Watanabe. Both are excellent, you’ll absolutely love NewsFire.
My site, and thousands of others on the web, produce an RSS “feed.” This little blurb of text sits like a huge paragraph until your RSS news reader pulls it down to your Mac, then separates the headline and summary so you can scan it.
Signing up or subscribing to an RSS news feed is much easier than it sounds. Drag a page with an RSS link to NewsFire’s open window, and it’s done. That’s simple and easy. NewsFire then lists the site, the headline, the summary.
I used to have a couple of dozen web sites that I’d view in Safari’s tabbed windows. After clicking on the sites I’d have to wait for them to load in each tabbed window, then click on each, scan the whole page for something new, then read, then repeat the process.
No more. RSS eliminates much of the work, let’s me scan 10 times or more, and get news and information in less than half the time.
For example, download NewsFire RSS from David’s site. Install and open. Then, drag the link from my home page into the left column window of NewsFire. Bang. You’re done.
Find other web sites (most Mac web sites have RSS feeds these days, as does iVillage, Yahoo, CBS, ABC and so on) and do the same thing.
No kidding. I’m scanning hundreds and hundreds of articles on the web each day and it takes me less than half the time I used before.
When I get up in the morning, NewsFire has already downloaded over 300 articles in the 60 or so web sites that I have listed (just drag and drop; the number grows quickly). I can scan the list of headlines quickly, slowly, skim, read the summary.
No matter what, you get access to more news headlines and summaries than by browsing alone. Many more. Once you find a headline of an article you want to read, just click, and that article opens up in Safari or OmniWeb (I prefer OmniWeb these days).
RSS is so hot these days that there are few major sites that don’t have RSS feeds, though more are popping up every day. RSS is so hot that both Firefox and OmniWeb have initial RSS support (not that great) and Safari is scheduled to have integrated RSS in the Tiger release of Mac OS X later this year.
NewsFire is the best RSS reader, hands down. Simple interface, just the features you need, fast and with a neat sound effect to let you know something’s been downloaded. NetNewsWire has been around longer and how many more features, but that requires more configuration and thinking.
Keep it simple.
You can’t go wrong with either, though I prefer the very frequent updates and improvements of NewsFire. Try it for a couple of days. You’ll start reading more headlines and summaries of what you want and do it all in less time.
This is another part of the digital hub that I really like.
Oh, I haven’t bought a paper magazine in six months. Who needs ‘em?
What’s your RSS experience? What’s your list of favorite sites with RSS feeds? Share your RSS knowledge and experience with other Mac readers and click on the Comments link below.